What if We Both Have Medical Insurance for the Kids?

Ah, medical insurance. If your anything like me and my family, you put off purchasing health insurance as long as possible. (We don’t use medical services ever, really, so our dollars are better spent elsewhere.)

You’re probably not like me and my family, though, which means you’ve had health insurance for a while. And, if you get divorced in Utah, you have to have it for your kids.

How this breaks down normally is one parent provides the medical insurance, and the other parent reimburses half of the insurance premium costs and reasonable out-of-pocket medical expenses (e.g., copays, medications, etc.). (For more on the particulars regarding how things normally work, read here.)

The Skinny on Double Coverage Insurance

But what if things aren’t normal? What if both divorced parents have medical insurance for their kids?

This issue of double coverage insurance isn’t addressed in Utah law, nor is it ever addressed in Utah divorce decrees. So, there’s not a lot of guidance there.

Our experience has been that when double coverage exists, neither parent reimburses the other for the child’s share of the medical monthly premium. In other words, each parent pays their kids’ portion of their own medical insurance premium.

This makes a lot of sense. Reimbursing each other for half of the children’s portion of each medical insurance premium would be overly complicated. And since most insurances are about the same price, there isn’t much difference in price between reimbursing and everyone paying their own.

(Note: the only time I haven’t seen parents pay their own is when one plan is significantly, and I stress significantly, more expensive than the other. This has only happened maybe two or three times in my career, however.)

But What About Out-of-Pocket Costs?

When there’s double coverage, out-of-pocket costs are treated the same way as when there is single coverage: each parent shares the cost equally. (This is assuming, of course, the divorce decree says you share costs equally, which 99% of them do.)

Where double coverage gets a little tricky is when the two insurances fight with each other about who’s going to pay for the children’s medical procedure. These inter-insurance squabbles can go on for a while, but they always seem to get worked out.

In any case, when things do get worked out and final payment is due, parents share the out-of-pocket costs.

Designating a Primary Insurance Provider

Because of the squabbles mentioned above, it’s important to designate a primary insurance provider for your kids. This alleviates a lot of headaches and saves time.

My advice for choosing a primary insurance is to sit down and compare plans. The best plan (a combination of best coverage and lowest out-of-pocket cost) should be designated as the primary plan.

If there is ever a situation in which the secondary plan would be better, make sure the medical provider runs things through the primary plan first, then runs it through the secondary plan. You may have to call and remind them to do this.

Published On: August 2nd, 2016Categories: Financial PlanningComments Off on What if We Both Have Medical Insurance for the Kids?
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About the Author: Marco Brown
Marco C. Brown was named Utah’s Outstanding Family Law Lawyer of the Year in 2015. He graduated with distinction from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 2007 and is currently the managing partner of Brown Family Law, LLC.
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